By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
There are certain boxers from my past that in retrospect would be champions today. One such boxer was tough enough to be nicknamed “Bad.” He was Bennie Briscoe from Philadelphia and brother you better bet he was just that, “Bad.” He was probably the most feared middleweight of his era and it was a tough time just be a middleweight in Philly. If you were bad there, you were bad everywhere.
Briscoe turned pro in 1962 and would win his first fifteen contests. Among his victims were Charley Scott and Percy Manning. In a return with Manning in 1965, Bennie would suffer his first setback. That year he would also lose to Tito Marshall and Stanley “Kitten” Hayward. In 1966 Bennie would halt the highly respected George Benton.
Bennie was now among the middleweight elite. The year 1967 would see him lose two decisions to the great Luis Rodriguez. Sandwiched in between those losses was a draw in Argentina with a fella named Carlos Monzon. In 1968, he would lose to future light heavyweight titleholder Vincente Rondon. He would knock out Rondon in a 1969 rematch.
In 1970, Bennie began to make his march to a shot at the world’s middleweight title. He won eleven straight fights until he was upset by Luis Vinales in 1972. He would stop Vinales in a return match. Finally in November he would meet the reigning middleweight champion of the world, Carlos Monzon. Again they would be fighting in Argentina. This time Carlos clearly deserved the decision the retained his title but he was rocked to his heels by Bennie in the ninth round of that fight. Monzon would always have a great respect for Briscoe.
Bennie would regroup in 1973. He destroyed Art Hernandez in three rounds. He stopped Billy “Dynamite” Douglas of Columbus, Ohio. Billy’s son Buster would shock the world in 1990 when he took apart Mike Tyson. Bennie closed the year by losing a decision to Rodrigo Valdez. These two would create some history together.
Bennie put himself right back into the thick of the title picture in 1974 when he took out the streaking Tony Mundine of Australia. Later he would again meet Valdez for the WBC version of the title that had been taken away from Monzon. In a stunning display of punching power, the vastly under rated Valdez sent Bennie down and out in round seven. Bennie came back but finished the year dropping a points call to all time great Emile Griffith.
Briscoe would then go undefeated in his next thirteen bouts. He won nine and drew in four. In this span, he would beat Eddie Gregory ( a.k.a. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad ). He would draw with the dangerous Eugene “Cyclone” Hart. In a return go, Bennie blasted out Hart in one round. Bennie also drew in a return with Griffith.
In 1977 after Carlos Monzon had officially retired, Bennie was again matched with Rodrigo Valdez for vacant title. Again, Rodrigo had Bennie’s number and won a very close decision.
Starting with a decision loss to future champion Vito Antuofermo, Bennie would lose nine of his last seventeen fights. Later that year, Bennie would drop a verdict to another future champion named Marvin Hagler. At this stage of his career any middleweight who dreamed of becoming the champion had to go through Bennie first.
By the early 1980’s, Bennie was becoming a stepping stone for young, talented fighters like Vinnie Curto. After a 1982 loss to Jimmy Sykes at the famous Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, hometown boy Bennie Briscoe decided to hang up the gloves. He left a legacy of 96 fights against many of the toughest welterweights and middleweights of his day. He won 66 fights and an amazing 53 of those by knockout. He was stopped only once in his career. His record reads like a who’s who of boxing in that era.
If ever a fighter who was never crowned a “world champion” deserved to be elected in to the Hall of Fame, it is none other then Bennie Briscoe.